Sunday, 9 July 2017

Lots happening in the veg plots.......

Little bundles of fluff, full of cheeps and chirrups and already trying to fly out of the box when they see us nearby. We have another twenty eggs in the incubator so hopefully we shall have some more chickens to add to our flock soon. And last night our three new hens took themselves to bed in the nearly finished chicken hut, but the two Orpingtons prefer to rest for the night in the mini huts, possibly because they find climbing the ladder to get into the new hut too much effort for them. Orpingtons are not the most energetic of chickens.
And out in Veg Plot 3...
the potatoes have survived the beetle attack, and Lester is now harvesting them.
He is bringing into the kitchen one row at a time, but he wants to get them all lifted quicker than I can process them, so I bought some hessian sacks from Amazon UK to store them in.
Total jars of canned potatoes to date: 5.
These are DIY fast food for us.
And the right hand side of VP3, and really, truthfully, while it might look like a jungle of overgrown weeds it is not. The first clump of greenery is the four rows of bush beans,
which we are now harvesting.
Total jars of canned beans to date: 15
.... and of course a lot eaten!
The empty looking strip of ground is in fact the very diminished rows of brassicas which have been so heavily attacked by flea beetles. But although looking very battle worn, the plants continue to struggle on, so all the while they are trying to keep on growing I shall keep on persevering with trying to help them.  The greenery beyond that strip of brown is full of tomato plants, bush beans for drying, and manic courgettes.
The tomatoes: we have not staked these up, and have let them do what comes naturally to them, which is sprawl everywhere. We did very well with our tomato crop last year but everyone else did not. We don't know why..... we never tied the plants up, fed them, or hardly watered them. In fact they were totally neglected! So this year we have left this patch of tomatoes to go their own way, not through intent but through not getting round to tying them up.
The bush beans: we have started eating a lot of beans..... sloshing some tomato ketchup over them gives us the equivalent of baked beans but at a fraction of the cost, so we thought we would grow our own. Beans seem to do well here without much fuss, and with no disease that we know of.
As for the courgettes: I grew four courgettes plants, which are enough for us. They are the non rambling type so are easy to get to and harvest. However we had courgette type sproutlings popping up here and there in Spring, so not having the heart to plough over them Lester transplanted them into VP3. Oh dear, The original courgette parent must have cross pollinated with something else, because those courgettes are  flinging out arms all over the place, and are producing at a rapid rate many plump, courgettes far to big to be useful. I do not want to save the seeds of these!
And ignoring Veg Plot 2 because there is not much to see, here is the right hand side of Veg Plot 1.
...... the muddle of greenery to the right of the onions is just that... a muddle.
This is supposed to be three rows of beetroot, but the beetroot were slow in sprouting and were overtaken by weeds. These were the only seeds we direct planted, and the last I shall ever do because they confirmed for me that using plant cells to get seeds going might take more work at first, but save work in the long run.
.... and the onions, which are the first we have grown from seed. Recent high winds knocked them all sideways and I thought I would to replant them, but no, I didn't have to, because they all righted themselves again. I was very impressed with the effort they made to do that.
... and next in the line are the cucumbers, which I don't have the faintest idea what to do with.
All they seem to want to do is sprawl all over the place despite my efforts to get them to grow upwards. But I did harvest a cucumber this morning. It had a prickly feel to it, very unlike the smooth, straight, shrink wrapped  supermarket cucumbers, but I now know what cues are supposed to taste like.

.... and next along are the tomatoes, and as you can see, these all have wriggly metal poles planted beside them.
Message to self: do remember to get those tomatoes tied up otherwise those poles are useless.
...... and then on to rows of newly planted brassicas, chard, peppers, and basil.
This patch also has an active population of flea beetles,
Not to worry, I seem to have found a solution to reducing their population:
I was spraying with diluted washing up liquid, but it took ages, and was tiring to my patience and my back. Then I tried diatomaceous earth powder, but apart from being expensive to buy, it tended to blow off the leaves in the wind, with the flea beetles side stepping what was left on the plants.
... then I came up with this solution.... which is to make a plastic dish out of the bottom of an empty water bottle, fill it with dilute washing up liquid, and put one down beside each plant.
I had to cut a lot of bottles up, but it was worth the effort. I fill the dishes each morning, and feel very satisfied with the amount of beetles I see floating in the water.
... the black specks are the beetles. This is one day's capture. There are a lots of dishes in situ.
And the now empty pig pen, which was getting overgrown with some big weeds.
Not now it's not. The scythe and me went to work, and half an hour later all was cut.
It was a lovely morning, me and the scythe worked well together, and all in all in was the most satisfying experience.
A simple meal, but all home grown: lettuce, crystal lemon cucumber, beetroot, and cheese on one plate, and on the other pan fried spiced potatoes and runny eggs.
The only add ons were the ingredients for the salad dressing and the spices for the potatoes.
As I say, it was a simple meal, but quick to make and delicious.
That's all for now folks,
off to the kitchen now for a slice of chocolate courgette cake.
I ate the last slice of lemon courgette cake this afternoon.
Total number of jars of  courgette, ginger, and orange jam made so far: 6, but one eaten, so 5 are left.
I remain surprised at how versatile courgettes can be!
Anyone got a courgette recipe I can try?
Thanks in advance.
Bye for now,


Kev Alviti said...

Looks like you're doing great. If you're going to be selling next year are you going to increase the space you're using?
As for courgeete I'm going to dehydrate a load to use in winter I think. I dehydrated cherries yeterday.
Your plots are looking really tidy from the photos, I've used a lot of plastic mulch to keep mine in check this year.

Cro Magnon said...

We used to grow a lot of (Ridge) Cucumbers. There was a merchant who would call every morning for our crop, to turn into Cornichons. We also made our own. No-one seems to grow them any more, and no merchant calls. I used to make quite good pocket money.

Coco said...

No sooner have my tomatoes got tomatoes, than they´ve got blight too. And I´m still picking beetles off the potatoes. But my sweet peas are starting to bloom, so that´s something.

Here, they make a tortilla espaƱola (frittata if you´re Italian) with half potato and half grated courgette. Or there´s a cream soup (sauteed courgette, onion, garlic, glug of white wine,simmer, puree, add milk), served either hot or cold. Or Pisto Manchego, which is cubed onion, green pepper, potato, courgette, in tomato sauce. It sounds strange but if you fry the potato first it adds something. Usually served with a fried or poached egg on top.

Bon appetit!

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

Wow, you are really doing well there! I have given up trying to grow beets. The tiny seedlings almost always end up getting eaten by something. Courgette (or zucchini, as we call them) tend to get shredded and used as a "filler" for muffins and sweet breads. There are recipes out there for stuffed zucchini, with a filling much like how you would prepare ground beef for meatloaf. Also, when we have too many, I slice them on a diagonal for bigger surface area, brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle some Greek seasoning on them, and grill them on the barbecue. -Jenn

Dawn said...

Its all looking great and well organised, lots of canning to do :-)

Rhodesia said...

Everything looks great you are doing well. I have just started lifting our potatoes, Beans are behind as I planted late but pulling carrots and parsnips. Re courgettes the make great ginger and courgette jam but the recipe that I am hooked on this year is this one which is delicious and low on calories :-) Diane

Vera said...

KEV, we have all the space we need, but it is the lack of nursery space which slows us down. But we are pleased at the weed control we now have.....ploughing, then rotovating, then planting seedlings rather than seeds, means that a light hoeing is all that is needed to keep the weeds down. But it does mean that we need a lot of space to grow the seeds in the first place, and this we do not have at the moment.

CRO MAGNON, I am going to have a go at pickling cucumbers this year because I love the jars of pickled gherkins / cornichons I buy from the supermarket and think that home grown ones would taste even better!

COCO, we didn't have tomato blight last year, but we did the year before. But I didn't waste the green tomatoes with blight... I harvested them anyway and just cut the blighted bit off so hardly any was wasted. Thanks for the recipe tips.

JENN, beets grow alright here, it is just that they tend to take their time to germinate so the seedlings can get strangled by weeds. Growing the seedlings in plug trays first and then planting them out stops the hassle of having to weed. Thanks for the recipe tips for courgettes......

DAWN, I shall be canning for weeks yet!

DIANE, it was your ginger and courgette jam recipe that I used, and very nice it is too even though it takes an age to set! We have trouble growing carrots and parsnips because of our stony soil, but I am experimenting with growing them in a trench of compost this year. Hope it works out as I would love to have our own carrots and parnsips. Thanks for the recipe link.

Rhodesia said...

Vera I use jam sugar, not ordinary sugar and it sets quickly. Diane

Vera said...

DIANE, I bought some jam sugar yesterday to see if the courgette jam would set quicker. I love this jam because it is subtle in taste and not too sweet!

Kerry said...

Enough to feed everyone :) Interesting about the tomatoes. I tend to let them romp to but we also use the curly stakes. I do prefer the rustic looking toms, doing their own thing.

Vera said...

KERRY, I am pleased to know that you also let tomatoes romp too. I really do think they are happier doing their own thing!